The City has published a draft Nature Reserves By-law that is intended to protect and preserve the nature reserves in Cape Town’s municipal boundaries, as well as to ensure the safety and enjoyment of those visiting these areas. Residents are encouraged to read the proposed by-law and to please submit their comments.
Cape Town forms an integral part of the Cape Floristic Region, with much of its unique biodiversity being highly threatened and restricted to small areas within the City’s municipal boundaries. It is challenging to adequately protect and conserve this unique and spectacular biodiversity.
The City’s 23 nature reserves have been proclaimed in terms of the National Environmental Management Protected Areas Act (NEMPAA) and the City is the designated management authority.
The nature reserves comprise a total area of 17 035 hectares which is a mere 20% of our recognised biodiversity network. To support and expand this footprint, the City also manages 16 City Park sites in terms of a Biodiversity Agreement. These sites are home to critically important biodiversity, but also serve as valuable public amenities, for example, Rondebosch Common, and together comprise 381 hectares.
The importance of our biodiversity is also recognised by the private sector with 12 stewardship sites on private land being managed in terms of a perpetuity stewardship agreement. This private property protects a further 2 262 hectares of critically important biodiversity.
These protected areas provide important ecosystems and contribute to Cape Town’s future sustainability and resilience to climate change.
The proposed Nature Reserves By-law aims to ensure that the City fulfils its obligations in terms of the NEMPAA, and that our protected areas are utilised by learners, tourists, volunteers, and Capetonians in a sustainable manner.
Currently, the City of Cape Town’s 23 nature reserves are managed in terms of the National Nature Reserve Regulations. The by-law is much needed, and will allow the City to improve efficiency, including the enforcement of these regulations more vigorously through the municipal court system and the issuing of compliance notices.
The draft Nature Reserves By-law is based on the national regulations. The City is eager to improve on the language used in the by-law by giving the public the opportunity to comment and to make further proposals. We will amend the proposed by-law based on the input that we receive from residents and interested parties during the commenting period, in the same way that we have amended the proposed Coastal By-law after a vigorous public participation period.
‘Thousands of people visit our nature reserves every month. They want a safe space, and an environment that contributes to the pleasure and enjoyment of being in nature. We have a responsibility towards these visitors, but we also have the duty to ensure that we preserve our nature reserves for future generations, and that the activities taking place in these areas are sustainable and not harmful to the environment. The draft by-law seeks to find a balance between these interests, and the different needs of those who visit the nature reserves,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Alderman Marian Nieuwoudt.
The by-law is intended to regulate the management of the City’s nature reserves, as well as access and uses, and lists a number of prohibited activities.
The draft by-law allows for the appointment of voluntary safety officers, nominated by the existing Protected Area Advisory Committees, to issue verbal or written instructions to visitors. Importantly, authorised officials must be in possession of a staff identification card when exercising powers in terms of the draft by-law.
Access to nature reserves, entrance and access points, and the conditions under which an area may be closed to the public, are prescribed. Nature reserves are open from sunrise to sunset, and the draft by-law requires visitors to always have on them their entry permit for inspection, unless access to the reserve is free. It also determines that no person may overnight in a nature reserve without written authorisation from the City.
The draft by-law lists prohibited activities, among which the feeding and hunting of animals; dumping and littering; playing of loud music ; and lists activities that require prior authorisation such as filming, tours, events, research, the flying of drones, rock climbing, and so forth.
‘One example is the challenge with syndicates who are using dogs to hunt animals in our reserves. Those participating in the illegal activities bet on the dogs and the number of killings they make. The by-law will better enable the City to impound and remove these animals, and to take action against their owners. Another challenge is those who remove precious and endangered plants in reserves,’ said Alderman Nieuwoudt.
The draft by-law empowers peace officers to issue a fine, or instruct those who are contravening the by-law to leave the reserve. The instructions may be verbally or in writing, and the person must comply immediately.
The draft by-law also allows the reserve manager, as the authorised official, to ban any person who fails to comply with the provisions from its nature reserves for a certain time period; and provides for procedures to appeal against any administrative decision taken by an authorised official.
‘A good example is speed boats and their drivers who often fail to comply with the rules when they are on the water. The same applies to those who are driving in a reckless and dangerous manner in reserves where 4×4 vehicles are allowed. The draft by-law allows the safety officer to recommend to the reserve manager to impose a ban on the driver for a certain period as a corrective measure. Failure to comply with the ban would be an offence, and this person will be prosecuted in the municipal court and fined, if found guilty,’ said Alderman Nieuwoudt.
Residents and interested and affected parties can get access to the draft by-law, and the protected areas list and map as follows:
- on the City’s website: http://www.capetown.gov.za/City-Connect/Have-your-say/Issues-open-for-public-comment/draft-nature-reserves-by-law
- at City libraries
- at subcouncil offices
Comments must be submitted by Monday, 16 March 2020; these can be done online, at the City libraries, or subcouncil offices.
‘I encourage residents to read the proposed by-law and the provisions, and to tell us their views. We need as much input as possible so that we can address any shortcomings. Those who visit our nature reserves will have first-hand experience of what is needed to preserve our natural areas, and to ensure that we all have a safe and enjoyable experience,’ said Alderman Nieuwoudt.
Issued by: Media Office, City of Cape Town
Media enquiries: Alderman Marian Nieuwoudt, Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, City of Cape Town,
Tel: 021 400 5154 or Cell: 084 224 0023,